Roast Chicken Breasts – The Beauty of Basics

by Sally on August 1, 2011 · 15 comments

in Basics and How-To, Chicken & Turkey, The Daniel Plan

The store is out of what you need, creativity is running low and dinner hour is looming. What do you do? Turn to the beautiful basics. Tonight, it was roast chicken breasts. Start by searing them on the stovetop until golden brown, then finish by oven roasting. Easy, foolproof, and almost no recipe required. Success is almost guaranteed.

Classic, Basic Roast Chicken Breasts

The store was out of my favorite organic, boneless chicken breasts and there was but one package of organic bone-in breasts left. Amongst many shoppers, I quickly nabbed the last package to roast for dinner. I’ve never cooked roast chicken breast that my husband did not devour.

Bone-in chicken breasts are an excellent choice at the market. The bone helps preserve flavor and moisture, and they are about half the price of boneless, skinless breasts. All of this, and you can have them on the table in about 45 minutes. An added benefit is part of the time is hands off; you can make some vegetables, toss a salad and finish the rest of the meal.

Even without sauce, roast chicken breasts taste great when well seasoned, seared and finished in the oven.  Once you do this you won’t need a recipe. It’s all about technique. Roasting chicken breasts will become one of your basic go-to solutions for getting dinner on the table.

How to Prep Chicken Breasts

Start by trimming off the rib bones and any extra skin or fat with a cleaver or sharp heavy knife. This gets rid of extra little bones many people don’t like dealing with and makes for a much nicer, cleaner presentation.

After trimming, season well with kosher or sea salt, black pepper and granulated garlic. Heat a stainless steel sauté pan, or fry pan over medium heat for a minute or two. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil or grapeseed oil. The oil is hot when it moves around freely in the pan and shimmers. Don’t let it smoke, which is the sign it’s too hot.

Time to Cook: Stove-top to Oven

Place the chicken breasts in the pan top side down. The chicken should sizzle when it hits the pan. Allow a golden crust to form, then turn breasts over and add wine (or broth). Allow liquid to cook down for one minute, then place chicken breasts on the rimmed baking sheet and pour liquid over the top and finish roasting in the oven.

Roast chicken breasts until a digital thermometer (I use a Thermapen) reads 160 degrees in the thickest part without touching the bone (you’ll get an inaccurate reading). The temperature will rise to 165 degrees upon standing for a few minutes before serving. Use the juices like a sauce when it’s done if desired.

If you have chicken breasts of different sizes, the smaller ones will roast faster. Test them first ( at about 20-25 minutes depending on size) and remove from the oven. Cover with foil and set aside to stay warm, or place in a 200 degree second oven or a warming drawer.

Try this simple technique for roasting chicken breasts and add it to your repertoire for getting a good dinner on the table. Extra chicken makes wonderful chicken salad for lunch the next day, so have no fear of leftovers or buying more than you think you need. In fact, I’d recommend you make extra. You’ll be happy you did. 

Roast Chicken Breasts – The Beauty of Basics

This recipe adjusts easily to how many you are serving. Plan one breast per person; maybe a half of a breast for kids or light appetites if they are large sized. Extra chicken breast makes great chicken salad or quesadillas the next day, so don’t fear leftovers. Instead, plan for them and save time the next day.

Yield: 2 servings (easily scaled up for more servings)


  • 2 pieces bone-in, skin on organic chicken breasts (1 whole breast, split)
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • 1/3 cup white wine (or low to no sodium chicken broth)


  1. If chicken breasts are cold (refrigerated), allow them to stand approximately 30-45 minutes to get the chill off. You’ll have better results when roasting.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set side. With a cleaver or sharp heavy knife, cut off the rib bones and any excess fat from chicken breasts, leaving some skin attached. Season liberally with salt, pepper and granulated garlic on both sides.
  3. Heat a cast iron skillet, stainless steel sauté or fry pan over medium heat. Add oil. When oil shimmers and moves around the pan easily place chicken breasts rounded side up in the hot pan. The chicken should sizzle hen it hits the pan. Allow the chicken breasts to cook undisturbed for about two minutes. Peak underneath and if the skin is golden brown, turn the breasts over and cook for another minute or two.  Carefully pour in the wine or broth (turn your vent system on or open a window). It will sizzle up wildly so don’t be alarmed. Cook one minute.
  4. Move the chicken to the baking sheet and pour the wine over the top. Place chicken in the oven and roast until 160 degrees is reached. Remove the chicken and allow to rest for a few minutes. The temperature will rise to the perfect 165 degrees. Serve and enjoy. As soon as an extra is cool, refrigerate.


– I use mini bottles of wine (airline size) to cook with frequently. The small size is very convenient when you just need a little wine to cook with.

–  In hot weather, if your trash is outside and would smell terrible from raw trimmings, freeze the disposable parts and take out on trash day.

– To accurately measure the internal temperature of the chicken, use a digital thermometer. I like the Thermapen, because the digital read out is large, the are fast, accurate, and even splash proof.    

Helpful links for more recipe ideas, information and tools:

Cast iron is classic cookware. Lodge makes a great product that’s inexpensive. I have a 10″ which is great for us two. They come in larger sizes as well.

Green Bean Salad with Sweet Tomatoes and Corn

Herbed Dutch Baby Potatoes

Salad Caprese with Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Basil Dressing 

Chicken Tostadas, from Simply Organic

Chicken Salad with Tarragon, from Simply Recipes

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chef Rachelle Boucher August 1, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Nice, back to the basics, love it! Great pics as always!


2 Rivki Locker (Ordinary Blogger) August 3, 2011 at 3:01 am

Wow, amazing how delicious a basic food like that can look. What wonderful photos.


3 Karly August 3, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Oh, I have a serious craving for some simple, roasted chicken right now. :)


4 Hannah September 20, 2011 at 2:25 am

Made these tonight, and they were fantastic. Definitely adding this to my recipe box.


5 Madonna September 27, 2011 at 11:32 pm

I made this recipe and it is delicious. I have roasted many chicken breasts, but it always was lacking something. Finally, the answer. The searing took it over the top. I made it in my all-clad skillet, because I was afraid of the wine and the iron skillet. Does the acid have any effect on it, or did I just miss an opportunity by not using the iron skillet? As I said before I have equipment issues.

Also, I love your prep pictures. Your prep made my chicken cook evenly. No one on any of the sites prep as good as you. Thank you so much.


6 Sally September 28, 2011 at 12:52 am

Thanks for making my day Madonna. Glad the recipe worked for you! On cast iron versus stainless steel and cooking with wine or acidic ingredients, its not a good idea. Acids can harm the finish or seasoning in a cast iron pan and might impart a metallic taste, ruining both your pan and your dish. Why risk it. For anything with wine or vinegar, I use stainless steel. All Clad is my favorite brand and I have lots of it. I also love my Le Creuset enameled cast iron Dutch oven and my Scan Pan CTX for my non-stick omelet pan.


7 Paige September 13, 2012 at 1:09 pm

I’m a little confused. Is it bad to use wine in stainless steel or cast iron. Based on the recipe and this question, I am confused which is correct. :)


8 Sally September 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Hi Paige. Thanks for your comment. I don’t usually use wine in a cast iron pan. There is a debate over whether it is a good idea or not. I have edited that out so as not to confuse readers. Stick with stainless steel for this recipe. I do use cast iron when I sear and roast a whole chicken. Have you tried that recipe? I do a whole chicken almost once a week. So easy! Thanks for the comment and question.


9 Paige September 13, 2012 at 6:28 pm

I just found your site today. Yippee! I usually roast a chicken twice a month. So easy and delicious! I’m following your searing advice next time for a prettier & tastier bird though. I also save the carcass from roasting and make stock. I use it for everything, but my favorite thing to make with that delicious stock is homemade gumbo for my family and friends. It makes a roux even better! Great site by the way!

10 Julia C. November 12, 2011 at 6:10 pm

I tried this for dinner tonight. What a fabulous tasting & yet simple recipe!


11 Shelly February 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm

In your tips, you say to freeze the trimmings & throw out the next day…I have a bag in my freezer that I put all of my chicken & veggie trimmings in. Once the bag fills up, dump it all in a pot and cover with water to make some yummy homemade chicken broth.

I don’t waste a thing in my kitchen! lol


12 Sally February 29, 2012 at 7:48 pm

The trimmings I’m talking about are mostly fat. When you trim a bone-in breast, there is not much to save for stock. Just the small ribs bones. But if you save those, good for you. I save the carcass form roasting whole chickens, but not just breasts.


13 Kristin May 27, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Is there a reason you transfer to a baking sheet instead of just flipping the chicken after searing and sticking the whole pan in the oven? I do this when I make this recipe (which I love) and it works beautifully. Just wondering why you used the baking sheet here.


14 Sally May 27, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Hi Kristin. You can do it that way if you prefer. I use a quarter sized rimmed baking sheet covered in foil so there is no clean up, then I wash the pan and put it away. Or sometimes I might want to use the pan for another dish. If the pan you are using has high sides, you may not get as good of air (in a convection oven) and heat circulation in the pan, while the rimmed baking sheet has low edges and the breasts roast pretty quickly. Just a few thoughts. Do what works best for you! You can even try it both ways.


15 Sally September 16, 2012 at 11:33 pm

Thanks Paige. I just rotisseried a whole bird tonight for dinner. The body went into the freezer for stock. The broth with roasted chickens is a bit different than with raw chicken, but still great and definitely beats anything out of a box or can, you are right Gumbo? Great! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


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